A neo-gothic masterpiece by architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel
In the old days, typical Berlin humour coined the phrase ‘in jedem Winkel steht ein Schinkel’ (there’s a Schinkel in every corner), referring to Berlin’s most famous architect – and at least in Berlin’s district Mitte, his buildings can still be admired. Many of his churches, however, like the Friedrichswerderschen Kirche, are not used as houses of worship anymore.
Karl Friedrich Schinkel had left his nationalistic-romanticistic phase, and all his gothic cathedral designs behind, when he planned the reconstruction of this German-French church in 1821, which had fallen into disrepair. Schinkel’s successor, Friedrich August Stüler, was commissioned in 1843 to work on the Werder church, and to ‘gothicise’ it, which he did. He added gothic finials with zink-cast crocket capitals to the roof.
Visitors to the church today, are not only pleasantly surprised by the wonderful impression of space, but also by the magnificant beauty of the coloured glass windows. These had been stored away from harm during the war years, and then forgotten. Only in 1982, when water was pumped out of the cellar vaults of Berlin’s dome, some wooden crates were discovered, which contained the long lost glass windows.
Today, the church serves as a museum. In the nave, a variety of sculptures dating back to Schinkel’s time are on display, including the original model for Johann Gottfried Schadow’s most famous piece the ‘Prinzessinnengruppe’ (Grouped Princesses), the marble sarcophagus of Queen Luise of Prussia by Christian Daniel Rauch, several paintings from Berlin Castle, and also some likenesses of Immanuel Kant, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the Humboldt brothers, and numerous other sculptures.
The church is closed since 10th of September 2012 due to construction damages.
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